Marion McDonald (March into Pitlochry)

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Continuing the ‘Inspirational women in music’ series, I met my next interviewee last year through social media and a shared love of music. Marion was promoting March into Pitlochry festival, she is one of the founders, and we got chatting about music and the bands she had on the line up. We finally met in person at the festival in Pitlochry, which has got to be one of the prettiest towns I’ve been to. The line up both days for this year is outstanding, see the link below, I highly recommend you check it out….some of my favourite bands today I first saw there last year!

Can you introduce yourself and briefly tell us a bit about you?

Hi Caroline, my name’s Marion McDonald- I am over 50!!- and I live in Pitlochry.

I have a mobile dog grooming business which I started nearly 5 years ago and I love my job.

Tell me about starting March into Pitlochry, who’s involved and how it came about?

For years I have been going to Loopallu and I love it – its a great festival in Ullapool with a capacity of 2000 people. Ullapool is not unlike Pitlochry with the main street having some cracking bars and hotels. Every year when I left I thought-Pitlochry could do that. I must have spoken my thoughts out loud to a few people. Stephen Carruthers a local business man came to me and asked if I was serious and did I think it would work- of course I did!! He is a big music fan and together we approached Bruce Patterson from Heartland FM who was also up for the idea and then we needed somebody ‘techy and we got John Macphee on board and we decided to put a plan together.

Is working in the music industry something you always wanted to do?

Working?? Not sure I can call it work but to be honest not really. As much as I am a huge music fan I never thought for one minute  I would get involved with the music scene apart from going to gigs festivals and listening to CD’s!!

Putting on a festival of that size must be a huge task, where did you even start?

Well before we knew it within a couple of weeks our plan became a reality!! We discussed an outdoor event but decided, that was a huge task to take on, so we opted for an indoor festival- in March before any other festivals kick off. We spoke to 3 hoteliers in Pitlochry who were all keen on the idea. They were to be our 3 “fringe venues” and Pitlochry Town Hall was to become out “Main Stage” so the next step was to start booking out bands that we had all seen before and with social media this was much easier than expected!

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Last years festival was a huge success, are you planning an even bigger MIP festival next year?

Well strangely enough no- we have scaled it back a little. Last year was a real learning curve. We had 4 venues and even putting PA and back line in all 4 cost us a lot of money. We are not out to make a profit but to break even would be nice! If we were to make any profit it would go to Parkinson’s UK which was is chosen charity for now. We rely heavily on sponsorship. So this year we have 2 venues and 20 acts. Hopefully from this year it will grow!

You had an amazing line-up this year, including my now favourite band Hunter and the Bear, so a big thank you for that! Who are some of the bands and singers you’re planning to have this year?

Well you and I both love Hunter & The Bear (who I first saw a t Loopallu!!) and they are headlining in The Town hall on Saturday Night because THEY ROCK. They are preceded by The Dunwells that are a great band from Leeds and we are very excited to have with us this year. We have Johnny Cage and The Voodoo Groove who describe themselves as hard, dirty, Rock and Roll Rockabilly & blues! what’s not to like? There will be a couple of bands that people will have seen last year for example another one of your favourites- King of Birds are back this year. Just added to our line up is Peter Bruntnell who has 10 albums under his belt and was described by Bob Harris”the cornerstone of UK Americana” what a catch. for us. We have some new exciting artists from up north and the central belt too so it’s all very exciting.

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Talk us through a typical day in the life of Marion.

My day starts with walking my dog- my daughter has just moved back home with me so invariably I have her little hound with me too. I always feel better for it no matter what the weather. Then it’s off to my day job! I travel up and down the A9 grooming. I cover from Inverness to Bankfoot. The reason I go as far as Inverness is I have friends and family there and have found myself getting a few days work every fortnight up north. Great excuse for a wee jaunt. I start about 9am and get home between 6 and 7pm. Then its getting the van ready for the next day grab something to eat and with any luck I might be heading to a gig at night!! If not I usually listen to music and check emails etc, I try hard not to iron!!!

Music PR isn’t a 9-5 job, how do you balance your dog grooming business and family life with it?

To be honest my main thing is March into Pitlochry and as it is a one off event it isn’t too onerous, My quiet time dog grooming is January/ February so that gives me time to finalise MIP. As  part of MIP we also put on Saturday Sessions at Mckays Bar in Pitlochry so that takes a bit of organising but only on the last saturday of the month so again not too bad. As long as there are people around that are willing to help whether at home or work it certainly helps. And as I said I try not to iron!! That helps!

Best gig you’ve been to and what made it memorable?

Oh that’s a tough one! My first gig was The Tourists in Aberdeen which was amazing-and I have seen so may people in small venues for example Mumford and Sons playing to a handful of people in their early days

But I think I would have to say Beth Hart last year at 02 Academy Glasgow. Possibly because I hadn’t seen her before and I wasn’t sure what to expect but she blew me away. Musically she was fantastic and she was so open about her life – her relationship with her Mother and Father and the love she has for her husband- she got so emotional on stage you really felt for her- she seemed so vulnerable and then she’d belt out another tune!! She came into the audience and sang to them and some of the saudience got very emotional. It was a concert that I thought about for weeks afterwards, which is always a good sign I think!

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Where do you want to be career wise this time next year?

I’m not a very ambitious person I don’t think! As long as I am still as busy dog grooming and doing a bit of music organising on the side I’ll be happy. It would be good to see MIP out grow the venues that it is in just now- maybe twist a farmers arm to lend us a field!! Ideally I would like March into Pitlochry 2018 sell out within a few months of tickets going on sale- now that would be something!!

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/marchintopitlochry/

https://marchintopitlochry.co.uk/

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2589951

 

The Low Down – Josh Taylor interview

 

 

Josh Taylor – Interview & Review

Just before Christmas last year I had the opportunity to go along to an Alstar Music showcase of young unsigned artists at the Classic Grand in Glasgow. Alstar Music is the brainchild of Simon Dawbarn .a.k.a. Spike from 90’s band 911. I was primarily there to see and interview Manchester born singer/songwriter Josh Taylor.

Classically trained and with an education from well known theatre and acting academies, he is in the pop/rock/classical genres. Josh is a young rapidly rising star of the independent music scene. He set up Cloud9Records & Management, and has toured with up and coming band Road Trip plus The Tide (from California). In addition he has been guest artist with the Glasgow Philharmonia when they played Glasgow City Halls.

Josh Taylor in Glasgow

Josh has released several songs and an album Feeling Stronger, all available here Josh Taylor Music. He has huge numbers of followers on his social media, and was extremely popular with the crowd in the Classic Grand. Not only is he a popular singer/songwriter but he is also a successful actor too, appearing on the BBC and in films as well as in theatre too, and has starred in West End Live at Leicster Square and Traflagar Square in London. In the past Josh has also co-written a play ‘The Wasp’.

He’s done so much it’s hard to list all of his background; I recommend checking out Josh’s website Josh Taylor Music.

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My interview with Josh had to be conducted in two parts due to the busy goings on at the gig. Here’s our video interview where we spoke about balancing two careers, songwriting and what his future plans are amongst other things.

The Interview

Josh Taylor Interview

I was very impressed by Josh’s natural performance skills at the Classic Grand (useful on stage and in front of a camera) his great voice, and the rapport he built with the audience. I particularly liked his airing of a new song which sounds like Josh’s music is moving gradually towards a maturer sound. A smart move as he and his teenage following grow and mature too. His natural talent, energy, charm and hint of cheekiness (a t shirt came off at one point!) will see this young musician/actor be successful in whatever he chooses to do. From what I have seen of Josh and through meeting him and the supportive team behind him I am certain he will achieve his goals. He is very down to earth, funny and likeable which will stand him in good stead too!

 

 

Shoony

PR Owls


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Acknowledgements

My thanks to Josh for agreeing to the interview and also to the team behind Josh for allowing the interview and for filming it. It was good to meet you all and I wish Josh all the best for the future, I’ll look forward to some new music soon.

Thanks also to Katie from Radio Saltire for introducing me to Josh.

 


Explore Josh Taylor’s music here:

Facebook  Twitter  Myspace

Photography:

Josh Taylor

Shoony – PR Owls

Video:

Josh Taylor YouTube

Josh Taylor team & Shoony

 

The Low Down – Little Eye (Interview)

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Little Eye – The Interview

Little Eye are Allan, Euan, Marcus and Jay. They were formed initially in 2008 by lead singer Allan but established as the current line up in 2013. They have a couple of accolades under their belt – Young Scot Unsigned Act Of The Year 2012 and Clyde One In Demand’s 2009 winners of ‘Band Of The Year Award’. They released their first album ‘Fighting The Future’ in  June 2014 after releasing the single of the same name in April 2014, which received postiive reviews on the iTunes Alternative Chart. In 2014 they were invited to open the main stage at the Isle Of Wight festival alongside established artists such as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Waterboys, The Specials, Nina Nesbitt, John Newman and The 1975. In 2014 they  also supported iconic band Blondie at the O2 ABC in Glasgow.

Little Eye toured in mainland Europe last year, and made it into the charts in Italy with their song ‘Something Out Of Nothing’ (it has had over 3 million streams on SoundCloud).They are currently signed to an Italian label and that track ‘Contagious‘ is getting national radio airplay. ‘Something Out Of Nothing’ was played on their MTV Rock channel, and reached number 8 in the top ten rock songs in Italy.

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They released ‘Contagious’ on Halloween 2016 and I recommend checking out the accompanying intriguing and slightly disturbing video! It reached number 1 in the Virgin radio chart in Italy with CDF Records, and number 14 in the Italian airplay rock charts.

I interviewed the band recently (minus Marcus the bassist) and it was a great interview with a very down to earth, fun and friendly band. I had the pleasure of seeing them live towards the end of 2016 at their headline show at Electric Circus in Edinburgh, and hope to see them again sometime soon.

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They are a dynamic and polished band who know how to put on a fantastic show with a charismatic frontman in Allan. I highly recommend checking them out live. Click on the link to watch the band discuss touring, acting and plans for 2017 etc…….

Little Eye – the interview

Shoony

PR Owls


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Acknowledgements

Thanks to Allan, Jay and Euan for an entertaining interview, great to see you all. Marcus sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet! Look out for this fantastic band bringing out sone new tunes this year

Explore Little Eye’s music here:

Little Eye Facebook  Little Eye YouTube  Little Eye Twitter

Photography:

Little Eye

Shoony – PR Owls

Video: 

Shoony – PR Owls

The Low Down – The Rising Souls ‘Set Me Free’ EP Launch Review

 

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On 26th November 2016 popular local band The Rising Souls launched their new EP ‘Set Me Free’ at The Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh with support from Logan’s Close (I unfortunately missed their set). I have seen The Rising Souls a few times; one of those times being when they played our charity Rockathon in May last year and gained a few new fans as a result of their impressive set. I was looking forward to what I knew would be a gig of superior quality.The Liquid Rooms were at full capacity and the atmosphere was lively and friendly.

The Rising Souls at The Liquid Rooms

With a new line up and a new sound straight away this felt very fresh; almost like watching a new band but with the reassuring familiarity of long term band members Roy (Kelso) and Dave. Kelso’s effortless guitar playing, and Dave’s powerful, sublime vocals were as reliable as ever. I could still hear the rootsy soul we are used to but this new sound is more rock with a harder edge than previously.

The new band members Joe and Reece have clearly gelled very well with Kelso and Dave. The sound created is polished and cohesive. The band has a great chemistry on stage, and they look like they are having a good time which means we are too. Somehow The Souls manage to be both gritty & natural at the same time as being polished and flawless.

The new songs sound immense, I didn’t think it was possible to improve on their previous material as it was so good, but they have taken it up another level and have somehow surpassed an already high standard. The new material was well received by a receptive audience who appreciated the rapport Dave built by engaging with the crowd, and by talking of his appreciation for their support of the band that night.

At the end the crowd demanded ‘one more tune’over and over, and the band happily obliged, raising the roof with their encore.

The production of the gig was great, the lights were very effective. All in all this was a fantastic gig and a highlight of my gigging experiences in 2016. I look forward to seeing them again sometime this year and hearing more of those new songs live.

Shoony 

PR Owls

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Acknowledgements

Thanks to The Rising Souls for a memorable gig, I’m loving the new sound!


 

Rising Souls Media:

Facebook   Twitter  YouTube

Photography:

Shoony

The Rising Souls

Video:

Shoony

 

 

The Low Down – Unsigned Music Awards Review

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“We believe that awards in music should no longer be reserved for a selection of elite, well established, international recording artists that have the funding, support and weight of major record companies behind them.” – UMA Founders

On 27 October 2016 the inaugral Unsigned Music Awards took place at the beautiful Troxy venue in London. Well over a year in the planning it came from the creative brain of founder Simon O’Kelly, and grew through the hard work, determined contribution and vision of Simon and fellow young, dynamic founders Georgina Thomas and Ben Connor.

Their dedication created an Awards to be proud of, that can be built on year on year. Designed to be able to sit comfortably alongside other music awards such as The Brits as a credible awards for the independent scene, I think they achieved that goal on the night.

With a lot to prove about the validity and worth of independent awards, the UMA met the challenge head on. The result was there to be seen in a glossy, exciting ceremony with some interesting and influential people in the industry presenting the awards, and two presenters in Laura Whitmore (MTV) and Chris Stark (Scott Mill’s Radio 1 show) who are current and credible in the music industry. All in all I think the combination of industry judges, professionals in the music industry, well known presenters, top quality nominees, incredibly good winners who proved their worthiness for the awards, and the excellent acts who performed at the ceremony (some such as Elle Exxe and Broken Witt Rebels went on to win awards) made it authentic and credible. I can see the UMA ceremony becoming more polished and glamorous as it progresses, but for the first year they did a good job. It all pointed to an exciting prospect for the years to come.

 

I have to mention the supremely good live performances on the night from Elle Exxe, Broken Witt Rebels, Hunter & The Bear, Alex Francis, Dani Sylvia, AKS,SKIES, Chasing Cadence and Darby Ward. We were treated to a diverse set of performances that impressed us throughout the night. The standard was very high and it helped to set the tone for the evening; showcasing how great the quality is within the unsigned music scene. For viewers watching it on Freeview etc I hope it came across at that high standard via TV as it did live at The Troxy. If it gained a few more fans for all the artists involved – winners, nominees and performers – then that’s a great incentive for everyone.

I have to give a special mention to Elle Exxe and Momac who are both from my home city of Edinburgh. I was so delighted to see them showing what talent there is here. Elle has great songs and put in a dynamic performance of her single ‘Home With You’ at the ceremony. I had the pleasure of meeting Elle after the ceremony and she is lovely and just as dynamic when you meet her in person, definite star quality. I scouted Momac for the UMA and was so delighted for Molly when she won the Youth Music Award. She was presented with it by Andy Parfitt who gained widespread recognition as controller at Radio 1. An impressive person to collect the award from, and Molly was very assured up on the stage. Well done Momac! She’s a star of the future definitely. I encouraged Momac to apply for the UMA because of her amazing voice, great songs, striking videos and cool look. She is the whole package, a ready made star. I recommend checking out her music.

If you didn’t watch the Unsigned Music Awards this year or didn’t attend the ceremony then you missed out on a great night. The good news is there are the 2017 awards to look forward to. I’m certain that Georgina, Ben and Simon will again put all of their hearts and souls into the awards they passionately believe in, and strive to make each year better than the last. But what makes the Unsigned Music Awards special is the talented independent musicians within the industry who are a part of the UMA. They showed why the UMA exists; why it’s important for the UMA to support them and nurture that talent.

Shoony 

PR Owls

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Acknowledgements

My thanks to the UMA founders for including PR Owls in what is a fantastic venture.I’m delighted to be a small part of a much needed awards.

Find out more about UMA here:

UMA Website Facebook Twitter

Interviews with UMA winners:

Elle Exxe – Best Female Solo Artist

Broken Witt Rebels – Best Rock Act

Photography:

Tony Jupp

Eric Duvet

 

 

The Low Down – Little Eye at Electric Circus (Review)

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I went along to Electric Circus in Edinburgh on 7/11/16 to see Little Eye. They are a band from Glasgow who are beginning to gain attention not only here, but in mainland Europe too.

Little Eye are Allan, Euan, Marcus and Jay. They were formed in 2008 by lead singer Allan. Since then they have a couple of accolades under their belt – Young Scot Unsigned Act Of The Year 2012 and Clyde One In Demand’s 2009 winners of ‘Band Of The Year Award’. They released their first album ‘Fighting The Future’ in  June 2014 after releasing the single of the same name in April 2014, which received postiive reviews on the iTunes Alternative Chart. In 2014 they were invited to open the main stage at the Isle Of Wight festival alongside established artists such as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Waterboys, The Specials, Nina Nesbitt, John Newman and The 1975. Also in 2014 they supported iconic band Blondie at the O2 ABC Glasgow.

In October they released their new single ‘Contagious’ which fitted perfectly with Hallo’ween! I recommend checking out this intriguing and creepy video!

After the gig I caught up with Little Eye front man Allan to find out how he thought the gig went and to ask more about touring and what’s next for Little Eye. Look out for a full band interview coming soon. But first my review.

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REVIEW


 

It was decent sized crowd for a Monday night in Edinburgh. Although Little Eye don’t gig that much here  they are obviously well known and liked here judging by the size of the crowd that was in Electric Circus.

I had known about Little Eye and listened to their music quite a while before I saw them at their headline gig. I had literally days before seen their video for new song ‘Contagious’ and was very impressed by the new single and the unnerving but entertaining video that accompanies it. I was very much looking forward to seeing if their live performance would be of the same standard.

Little Eye I discovered have a very charismatic and enrertaining front man in Allan. They are very good at engaging with the crowd which always gets extra points from me. Songs on the set list included ‘Dreamers’ which I thought was a good song. At one point during a song Allan got off the stage and stood in the crowd watching the rest of the band play a superb instrumental section. Also in the set was ‘Better Than This’ from their debut EP ‘Fight The Future’ and ‘We Are The Kings’. They played ‘Something Out Of Nothing’ which they added was being featured on the  MTV Top 10 in Italy.

Little Eye introduced ‘Contagious‘ by explaining that a month ago they had shot a video with Film Scotland and released it on Hallow’een.They said they had been on a long tour and ‘Contagious’ has been picked up by radio in Italy. It’s a great song, loud melodious rock that I highly recommend checking out.

The last song of the night was ‘Disco’ which I thought was fast, upbeat and funky with drving drums  Allan was doing some dance moves which ended in a forwards flip, he is quite the showman! It was a very rock n roll theatrical ending to a very good gig. Little Eye have gained a new fan.

After the gig I caught up with lead singer Allan who was lovely and kind to take time out to speak to me after the energetic set!

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INTERVIEW


 

Why have you not played in Edinburgh for a while?

No real reason why. It’s not that we don’t want to play, it’s just that other opportunities opened up; a lot of stuff in Europe. We’ve been gigging in Europe more than Scotland actually. It was a girl who contacted us and wanted us to play this venue, it was at the end of our European dates; we just decided to come and do it because we never play Edinburgh. I think our last time was Studio 24. Because we play Glasgow so much, so we thought we’d do it – come to Edinburgh, beautiful city and why not?

What did you think of the gig tonight?

Yeah it was really good, obviously it’s a Monday night so it’s a very nice and humbling turn out. For us on stage at a venue there’s obviously a few things that artists are pernickety about. But overall, people seemed to enjoy it, so that’s what it’s all about.

So you said that you were on you were on tour in Europe, where were you touring?

The tour spanned over a few months.We set off first and played Germany, France and Luxembourg. We were away for 2 weeks, then we came back for a few weeks. Then we went back out to play Belgium and Holland for 7 days.

And you seem to be doing well in Italy from what you were saying?

Yeah we’re currently signed to an Italian label and that track ‘Contagious’ is getting national radio airplay which is amazing. It’s one of these things ‘our track ‘Something Out Of Nothing’ got picked up in Italy as well. It was getting played on their MTV Rock channel, I think it’s currently number 8 in the top ten rock songs in Italy.which is a quite a cool thing.Then through that they found ‘Contagious’ the new song. It’s getting played on national radio which is quite good and hopefully we’ll be out to Italy next year playing some festivals, keeping our fingers crossed.

Are you going to be gigging more in Scotland as well?

Next year we think we’re going to be doing a Highlands and Islands tour. Places like Inverness, Aberdeen and Dundee, but then we’ll probably finish it off with a big show in Glasgow. It just depends next year on what Europe has to offer us. It’s going to be a busy year next year definitely!

Are there going to be any songs coming out after ‘Contagious’?

Yeah we are actually going down to London to record a bunch of new songs in January. Next week actually we are going up north to a studio with our producer for a week, just to get the songs ready to take down to London. So it’s an exciting time – lots of new music next year.

What’s been your biggest gig to date?

There’s been a few personal ones, we were lucky enough we did 2 shows with Blondie. Just meeting Debbie Harry, playing with such an iconic band! It was probably for me the coolest gig. But the guys would probably say in 2014 we played the main stage at the Isle OF Wight Festival so that’s probably the biggest one. So I’d say I O W main stage is our biggsest gig to date. But I personally prefer the Blondie one because I love Blondie! Even though you are playing a big festival’s main stage, it felt more personal playing 2 shows with Blondie as the only support band. That was quite cool.

bmd

 

Shoony 

PR Owls


PR Owls Facebook    PR Owls Twitter


 

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Allan for chatting to me after the gig, you must have been tired after that energetic set!

You can find out more about Little Eye on their media:

Little Eye Facebook  Little Eye YouTube  Little Eye Twitter

Photographs:

Little Eye

Shoony

 

 

 

 

 

Getting personal with Amy Lou

Amy Louise Rogers is a charismatic, witty 17-year-old singer songwriter from Dunfermline. With quirky original lyrics, fresh catchy pop melodies, and a bubbly stage presence she paints a picture of being a young woman who doesn’t exactly fit into a box!

She takes inspiration from the likes of ELO, Kate Bush, Fleetwood Mac and Big Country to name a few.

I had the pleasure of seeing her perform at this year’s Edinburgh Festival. Hugely entertaining she encourages her audience to get involved and sing along with her which we were all more than happy to do as it made for a very enjoyable and memorable experience!

With her new single ‘Girl from Dundee’ out now for pre-order I asked Amy Lou about herself, her music, influences and more here’s what she had to say…..

What or who was the biggest influence in you choosing to become a singer / songwriter?

When I was younger I adored (I still do) musical theatre but I simply cannot dance…so I’ve always really wanted to write songs and music that feels at home in a musical…my own musical – an Amy Lou musical!

What age were you when you wrote your first song, what was it about?

My first “serious” song that I’m proud of I wrote when I was 15 and it’s called ‘She Wants To Be A Marine Biologist’. When I wrote the song everyone I was surrounded by was starting to look at university courses and plan out sensible careers when all I’ve ever wanted to do was sit and play guitar and paint and read. I always thought there was something a bit wrong with me because I had no strong career goal (I still don’t) so that’s what the songs about, its admiring that’s it cool that the people around me know exactly what they want to do but it’s perfectly fine if I just want to play guitar. (Clearly a self-aware 15-year-old)

How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard your before?

Quirky Acoustic Queer Marine Biologist Loving Folk Pop

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What’s the musical dream you’re aiming for?

My favourite thing is when people know the words to my songs! When my friends come to a gig they’re usually the loud ones singing along at the back! My dream is to have that all the time! I love a good sing along!

Every writer seems to have a different approach to this, what’s your songwriting process?

I seem to be lyrics before the actual music, a lot of my songs are very quirky and conversational-y, so usually I’ll just play chord structures and rant about what’s bothering me to the tune of what I’m playing and hopefully somehow I say something good – from this “good thing” I’ll build a song! It’s a really weird process!

Who are your own hero’s, musical or otherwise?

Definitely my Gran! (Shout out to Granny Rogers!) In all honesty she’s such a cool little woman! She inspires me to definitely take the path less beaten and she’s always pushed me into being creative and being who I am through music and art!

If you could collaborate with any artist at all who would it be?

I adore the Proclaimers, so if they want to hit me up any time soon that’d be grand!

What’s been your best musical memory to date? 

I’ve loads of cool and amazing things happen to me because of my music! However, my favourite was at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe! This was a day where I wasn’t busking and I just had one gig (a rarity) so I decided to get an afternoon train which meant it was absolutely packed and I was left standing in the aisle. Me being me, I thought well promotion is promotion, I whipped out my guitar and started playing Proclaimers songs – my friends thought I was absolutely daft but I sold a few CDs and got another gig out of it!

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Are you lucky enough to be able to do music full time?

Right now I’m studying events management and promotion, which I’m getting crazy amounts out of and can apply to my own promotion – but when I’m not doing that I spend every second on music, whether it’s writing, rehearsing, gigging or planning!

Describe Yourself in three words?

A bit quirky?

Do you think there’s anything that sets you apart from other singers in Scotland?

I’d like to think I’m very different! My songs are all 100% based on the funny iconic things that happen to me, there’s no poetic metaphors and beautiful words to it with me. It’s straight to the point… I feel this makes me kind of relatable!

You have a great quirky stage presence and are extremely confident and very at home performing live, what big stage would be your dream to play on?

I’m dreaming of playing at Edinburgh Castle on the esplanade that’d be great!

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Finally tell us about your new song ‘The Girl From Dundee’ and when it’s out?

Well the single is quite different to what I usually do! A lot of my songs about love before have tried to hide my sexuality and fumble about the subject – this one’s very different! Simply put it’s a love song about a girl I met over the summer and it’s based on conversations I had with my best friend about this girl and what I could do to make her fall for me (the girl did not). Funnily enough she isn’t from Dundee either – she’s actually from Perth but the “The Girl From Perth” doesn’t really have a ring to it does it?

You can pre-order the song now and it’ll be fully available on the 1st of December!


Photo Credit – Hannah Findlay

Connect with Amy Lou – Facebook  YouTube

The Low Down – Mark Anthony Interview

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Mark Anthony is a North London born and bred singer-songwriter that I had the pleasure of meeting while I was on a recent trip to London for the Unsigned Music Awards. On 31st October Mark released his debut album Reckless Caution (click on the album name to have a listen). Mark’s music fits into several genres such as Urban Pop/Hip-Hop/Trap Rap/House/Elecro. On 4 March 2017 he’ll be playing his first headline solo gig, and featuring some tracks from the album at the St Moritz Club in Soho, London.

As a teenager he and his friends would hang around the London estate where he lived imitating rappers and writing their own raps to perform. Mark met a rapper from South London, Hi Breed and a singer from West London, Paul Lee. Eventually after being friends for quite a while the trio formed the group ‘The Meds Collective‘. They teamed up with a London based producer BA Nusance and recorded tracks together.

In May 2012 The Meds Collective released their debut album ‘Heartbreaks & Remedies’ and in January 2013 released an EP ‘Change’.They toured all over the UK after both releases and they also built up a core fan base around Europe and beyond. The Meds Collective split in September 2014. Following on from this, in December 2015 after writing and recording solo material, Mark released his debut single ‘An 80’s vibe’. After that he released ‘London City’ in February 2016 and ‘I Still Miss You’ in May 2016.

On 24 September 2016 Mark supported Tony Mortimer, former member of  British group ‘East 17’ (who were one of the big pop bands in the 90’s) at the O2 Academy Islington in London.Tony has continued on as a solo artist, a record producer and manager of bands. You can hear more about this big and busy gig for Mark in our interview.

Mark is also a music columnist for North London magazine “The Crouch End Connection“, and has his own weekly radio show “The Evening Sessions“on Shoreditch Radio every Monday from 9 – 10pm. A talented and busy man!

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So onto my interview which was conducted after meeting and chatting to Mark for a while beforehand (topics of conversation included Peter Andre, Blur and our day jobs!). He’s a great person to interview; very warm, friendly and chilled out. Mark was a star answering all my questions with ease including rate or slate! We spoke about Queen, Damon Alban, what’s next for Mark, collaborations and who he’d like to go on a road trip with.

Click on this link to watch the full interview with Mark:

Mark Anthony – interview

Shoony 

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Acknowledgements

My thanks to Mark for being such a good sport, you’re never getting to forget your answer to guilty pleasures! Thanks also to Katie G from Radio Saltire for initially connecting Mark and I. Finally thanks to my fellow Owl GeeGee for again being my fantastic videographer.


Mark Anthony Media:

Mark Anthony Website  Mark Anthony Facebook  Mark Anthony Twitter

Music:

Spotify   iTunes  Google Play

Photos: 

Mark Anthony

Video filmed by:

GeeGee (PR Owls)


Catherine J Campbell

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Next up in the ‘Inspirational Women in Music’ interview series is Scottish promoter extraordinaire Catherine J Campbell. I first connected with her on Facebook and loved her energy and passion for music as well as her enthusiastic and positive attitude. She’s super supportive and encouraging of everyone and its her sunny outlook on life as well as the daily motivational posts that make her such a big inspiration!


Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us what you do?

I’m Catherine J Campbell. I’m a music promoter who presently lives near Aberdeen but spends a lot of time in Perth & Glasgow. I have many names given to me by ‘my’ bands including Rock Chick, The Boss, Doricana Girl and a new one is Catherine ‘multitasking’ Campbell. Lol.

Is working in the music industry something you always wanted to do?

I never dreamed of working in the music industry and went the usual route of college (getting qualifications in accounting, Spanish, biology and psychology) then temping in a range of places from oil companies to Universities.

Tell us about CJC Promotions and what your hopes and dreams are for it?

CJC Promotions was a wee idea I had but was brought to life by my very good friend, Nick J Townsend, lead singer with Birmingham band ‘Weak13’, actor, director…his list of talents is endless. Nick helped me with the name and setting up the actual CJC promotions fb page and a twitter page. In the last 16 months, the music promotion I do has snowballed into an avalanche and the respect and love I have from so many folk totally stuns me. As for CJC Promotions, I aim to carry on doing as much as I can to help bands & artists to get their music ‘out there’ with 100% determination and dedication.

I know you have some challenging health issues, do these hinder your career in any way?

Since I was 18, yes I’ve had serious health issues but I get on with my life the best I can. I guess many folk would be surprised to learn I am hard of hearing but the only thing I cannot do is use the phone. I hear music and as you know, love having my music LOUD especially in my car. In fact, all the serious health issues I do have which led me 16 months ago to change my life and just go for it, although still there…well being 100% positive and keeping busy seems to have had a hugely beneficial effect on my health.

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Walk us through a typical day in the life of Catherine, if there is such a thing.

A typical day…hmmm…I guess there’s a pattern of sourcing radio stations, keeping in contact with ‘my’ bands and radio presenters but there’s also the continuous posting on Facebook and twitter, keeping an eye on ‘my’ bands posts and sharing on my own page, listening to new music that I get sent from ‘my’ bands but also from many other folk who contact me for help. Wi-Fi allowing, I like to listen in to radio stations, especially when ‘my’ bands are on. I also, try to set up interviews for them, either live guesting at radio stations or doing a phone interview. I’ve had the awesome Naked Sunday from Stafford …Laura Stanyer, Martin Stanyer & Craig Stanley on Canadian radio several times and Martin did an hour long live radio interview. I’ve had Fools on the Frontline on New York radio and also in Texas several times, The Swamp Born Assassins on New York radio several times and Michael Forsyth & The Amber Haze on Texan radio and over in New Zealand. Oh, and I’ve had Des Horsfall on New Zealand radio with his stunning track ‘Chameleon’ which featured Pete Townsend. Yes, and The New Madrids have been on Canadian radio.

You guest on quite a few radio shows, is having your own show something you aspire to?

The radio guesting that I do started when I created ‘The Interview Tour’ with Robert Woodside & Brian Lawlor of The Artisans. The guys made the stunning ‘Trilogy of the Somme’ in dedication to the millions of brave men who fought in WW1, including Robert’s own Grandfather, also called Robert. So far we’ve visited Oban FM & Radio North Angus in Arbroath with visits to Celtic Music Radio in Glasgow and Dunoon Community Radio coming up in November. I’ve done several solo visits to radio stations plugging ‘Trilogy’ and getting airplay. After we had been to these stations I started to get invited onto radio stations myself to talk about what I do and it’s been amazing, totally amazing the feedback I’m getting on these guesting stints. It’s actually gone crazy with invites but I love it. I love talking about ‘my’ bands with all the info, gig details, tracks & album launches etc. It’s incredible getting so much support with airplay and plugs from radio stations and presenters. I love guesting, it’s a lot of fun and I have great banter with the presenters. Its never been my ambition to have my own show, in the past I have been offered a slot by several stations however time-wise it wasn’t realistic…… but last week Heartland FM, a station I really love, offered me my own show to showcase new music as well as my own bands, that was an offer I just couldn’t refuse and I’m soooooo excited!!

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Who are some of the bands and singers you want everyone to know about?

Gosh…so many bands…where do I start?? Ok….

The Artisans from Hamilton

The Swamp Born Assassins from Glasgow

Fools on the Frontline from the Falkirk area

Stevie Wood & Cousin Halifax from Helensburgh

Michael Forsyth & the Amber Haze from Huntly

Lonehead from Glasgow

Naked Sunday from Stafford

Weak13 from Birmingham

DEVILS from Birmingham

The New Madrids from Perth

The Carloways from Perth

Grand Cane from Perth

Kristian Clezy of Larbert

Sugarpill from Milton Keynes

Cain Rising from Milton Keynes

Magik River from Stratford on Avon

Matt Partridge & Soley Mourning of Dudley

Des Horsfall from Yorkshire

Michael Morrow from USA

Joe Matera of Australia

I’d also like to give a big ‘shout out’ to Sean Ty Dell of Auxiliary Studios and WFDUK (Worlds Fastest Drummer UK)

Music PR isn’t a 9-5 job, how do you balance other aspects of your life with it?

Other aspects of my life….Lol. Well I’ll be totally honest, music promotions takes up so much of my life that the things i used to do like swimming regularly, walking etc are kind of non existent these days but my life of today is one i love so much. I love tearing around the country on road trips, going to radio stations and gigs. I just love it. It makes me feel alive.

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We went to Midstock Festival a few months ago and you commented this was the first outdoor music festival you’d been to, how was it and what did you love about it?

Yes…Midstock blew me away with the amazing family atmosphere, everyone having so much fun. It was just heart-warming to finally meet up with so many friends in ‘real life’ like yourself, Sherrene, Mr H of Channel radio in Kent, Marion and THE Airport Impressions guys!! I couldn’t believe we were there hanging out with these famous faces who were just so lovely. Midstock marked the start of a crazy buy week for me, following the guys round Scotland as they toured the UK. I was so lucky to be in Shereen’s, Mr H’s and the guys company so much that week. What a joy delivering amps from Perth to Dundee and ha ha, getting lost over the Tay Bridge.

Where do you want to be career wise this time next year?

As Del Boy said…’This time next year’…….yes, you can see I have a quirky sense of humour. But seriously, I just see myself continuing helping bands and artists purely because I love music and I think there are so many absol amazing bands etc. out there. I can’t help them all but I’ll do my absol best to help as many as I can. I don’t do it for money but for the love of music. I’ve built up a huge following and folk know me as being 100% dedicated, determined and everything is confidential. Everything.

Finally, you’re such a positive, caring and inspirational woman, what’s your best motivational quote for life?

Wow…to be seen as inspirational just blows me away totally!! A huge honour. It really, truly is!! I have 2 motivational quotes really. One is ‘Onwards & upwards’ and the other is ‘Grabbing life amigos’. You see, we have this one precious life and it goes so quickly. It isn’t a practice and you know that I’ve changed every aspect of my life over the last year. I want to look back and think ‘Wow. That was amazing’ not ‘Oh gosh. I wish I had done that’. One life so grab it with both hands!!


 

Sherrene Ryan Wells

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The second interviewee in the ‘Inspirational Women in Music’ series is Sherrene Ryan Wells from the good old USA! I first connected with Sherrene on social media when she was promoting Malta rock band Airport Impressions who were playing Midstock Festival a few months ago.

I met her in person when she was over here on tour with them recently and she was everything I knew she’d be…. friendly, fun, supportive, feisty and an inspiring go-getter!!


Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us what you do?

Hello All You Music Lovers –  Happy to introduce myself as promotions representative for the best indie record label in Scotland, Fat Hippy Records and for over 3 years have been part of an amazing team of passionate professionals showcasing indie bands/artists.  Fat Hippy Records represents over 10 bands from metal to country and my job is to publicize and promote all local upcoming or national events, concerts and news. In addition, I help organize events, book bands, handle press releases, radio airplay, design posters and plug album launches.  Fat Hippy Records is considered a geographically based label keeping independent music alive and delighted it has been growing strong in Aberdeen Scotland for over 12 years. I am also proud to be part of the team that promotes Live at Captain Toms” music TV show.  We are the best independent new music show in the UK and just wrapping up Season 4.  We showcase top unsigned bands/artist from all over the UK and touring bands and stream the show worldwide for free!  Subsequently I have become publicist for Fat Hippy Record’s award winning singer/songwriter, Colin Clyne going on 3 years and most recently publicist/tour manager for legendary band out of Malta, Airport Impressions. Needless to say, not enough time in the day, but so proud to work with these amazing folks who bring outstanding music to the masses. 

Is working in the music industry something you always wanted to do?

I was always passionate about music and knew it inspired me. As parents, we bought our kids the gift of a concert tickets vs stuff on birthday’s or special celebrations.  We have met Billy Joel, seen Cold Play, James Taylor, John Mellencamp, Bruce Springstein and so many epic bands.  However, how my career in the music industry began certainly falls into “you can’t make this stuff up” category.  My family was watching Season 3 of NBC The Voice and we caught the audition of the Scottish Rocker, Terry McDermott who perfectly belted out The Who “Baba O’Riley”   Jaw dropped and was an instant fan.   I joined the Facebook Fan Club and soon after was asked to head up and organize volunteer radio promotions as they knew my former career was in hotel sales and marketing. Once Terry launched his UK Tour as runner up of The Voice, I was introduced to his record label, Fat Hippy Records lead by the ever brilliant, “Captain Tom”.  The rest is history as they say…. Tom asked if I wanted to join the team and help promote bands on his label.  A lot more to the story, but from watching a TV show I I have one epic career in music and still feel blessed to wake up every day that I found this new career in this new chapter of my life.     

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Tell us about starting SRWells Music Promotions and what your hopes and dreams are for it?

Well, to be honest I created the SRWells Music Promotions Facebook page simply to have a separate format to promote Fat Hippy Records bands, Live at Captain Toms TV Show, Colin Clyne, and Airport Impressions. Right now it works as a great platform to reach music fans.  As for what are my hopes and dreams for SRWells Music Promotion…… to continue to love what I do each day and only represent bands/organizations I have a true belief or passion for. I get approached on a regular basis to represent bands for music promotion and as much as I appreciate the offer and validates I am doing a good job, I feel if you take on too much, then the personal touch, the details and the time management gets a hold of you and much impact is lost.   

Walk us through a typical day in the life of Sherrene?

Well, let’s be honest and the most fun part is how I end my day– A nice glass of red wine or a pink drink!  Albeit, the enjoyable part of my job is every day is a bit different.  Over my first cup of coffee, I typically spend the first hour going through my Facebook/Twitter feed to find leads and network. Again, depending on the focus of the week, it could be finding new radio leads, writing press releases, booking a tour, researching festival application for bands, designing a poster, promoting upcoming gig dates or managing the plethora of social media pages that I oversee. I can easily pull a 10-hour day as I could sit in front of my laptop for hours.  I am still learning to take breaks as I get into a zone and don’t want to stop. I still get excited when any of the bands lands a new radio station, magazine article, booking or notable press!  

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You’re not long back from touring Scotland with Airport Impressions as tour manager, considering you’re based in the US and the band live in Malta, how do you even begin to plan and organise something like that?

One of my favorite lines from Colin Clyne’s song “Pockets and Envelopes” is “…we are all connected by invisible lines…” Indeed crazy that little old me sitting in North Carolina USA is booking a band I never met from Malta in a foreign country of Scotland. The true beauty of this age of technology. 

We were excited when we landed Midstock Festival in November of last year which gave us ample time to properly build a tour around the festival date. And because of my years with Fat Hippy Records out of Scotland, I built a great network of folks in the industry who were amazing with their support for the band to book venues and radio play, including you PR Owls!!  For this tour, I wore many hats and spent countless hours behind the scenes calling venues, booking venues, promoting the tour, booking radio shows, writing press releases, properly advertising, coordinating with the band and building a fan base for Airport Impressions.  Although they are legendary in Malta playing to MTV Isle of Malta to 50k fans, in the UK they were virtually unknown. So in the end, we were all pleased we had such a successful week in Scotland and gained so many new fans! We cannot wait to return and are feverishly filling out applications for UK Festivals for 2017.   

It was a huge success, you and the band were loved everywhere you went, what were some of the highlights of the tour for you?

Hands down seeing the band performing at Midstock Festival was one of my highlights.  I was grateful to have the man who brought the band to my attention, Richard Alan Hubbard from Channel Radio by my side and I aint gonna lie… We both had a wee tear in our eye out of pure pride to being witness to the day. All our hard work came to fruition.  The second highlight was our final gig in Edinburgh at Stramash… outstanding crowd singing, dancing and loving the band’s show!!   When they broke out the cover song of Johnny Cash “Ring of Fire” and everyone was singing and dancing.. ( even me ) my heart was filled with joy!  Priceless moment I won’t forget.  All the long days of planning worthwhile. 

Other than the fantastic AI’s, who are some of the bands and singers you want everyone to know about?

Oh boy.. that is a loaded question for a PR person!  All of them!! Not sure there is enough attention span of your readers to hear about every band I promote. Please go check out www.fathippyrecord.co.uk for all the great bands!!!   But, I am excited that Fat Hippy Band, Ray Brower is the winner for the 2017 Hellfest MainStage!  Thrilled for the guys and cannot wait for one of top metal bands kicking butt in France next year.  

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I would be remiss not to highlight Mr. Colin Clyne as he holds a special place in building my career.  Colin is an award-winning singer/songwriter with Fat Hippy Records and asked me to be his publicist. When I read his credentials of 2x winner of Best Acoustic Act with San Diego Music awards, featured artist with NBC in a top 12 list of best singer songwriters associated with San Diego in amongst, Tom Waits, Jewel, and the late Jim Croce and finally his album “The Never Ending Pageant” was produced by Grammy Award Winning Engineer, Alan Sanderson, (The Stones, Elton John, Ryan Adams, Burt Bacharach) .. Ummm I was a bit nervous as new promoter in the business to take on this role.   But, I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished together and so happy he saw my passion, resourcefulness and tenacity to get something done regardless of my years in the music business!  Airplay on BBC Radio 2 with the legendary “Whispering” Bob Harris was a highlight for us.  For that special occasion we did a quick skype call and toasted each another for reaching that goal!  My three years as his publicist has offered me a great foundation to learn all facets of the music industry and proud that along with airplay on many great BBC stations, fabulous album reviews, song writing awards, magazine covers, Ireland tour, and so many wonderful gigs throughout the UK we have become dear friends.  Colin took a risk with a “newbie” in the business and so happy he did as I’ve met so many amazing people because of my role promoting his album. Heartfelt thank you goes out to Mr. Clyne. 

Music PR isn’t a 9-5 job, how do you balance other aspects of your life with it?

Well, I am sure my husband and son would say I worked too much, but I simply lose track of time as I love what I do!  However, I am still learning to balance my time as my first priority is to my family until my son is off to college.  Although I do not have to set this schedule, the 4am-5am wake alarm due to the time difference because I am located in USA and bands in UK and Malta certainly makes for an early start.  However, with my last tour with Airport Impressions to Scotland, it sure made adjusting jet-lag much easier.   As with any career, it’s all about balance, but when you love what you do, again, it doesn’t feel like “work” per say, but a taking a break is always healthy.    

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What was the first record you bought and what was it you loved about it?

Oh man, to be honest I have fond memories of my Walt Disney records that I used to sit and listen to for hours as a toddler… but my first record… perhaps The Beatles.  I loved every song and have a special memory of laying the floor with my brother for hours just listening and singing. But, if you want true confessions… my favorite vinyl was my Shaun Cassidy record — I kissed that cover over and over!!!

What’s the best piece of PR advice you’d give to young singers or bands just starting out in music.

Don’t suck!  

But besides that… UTILIZE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS.   In this 24 news cycle you need to stay relevant and hopefully catch fans eyes in the social media stream.  Drives me nuts when bands do not promote their gig dates, music or engage with their fans!  Why be on social media?  Even if you are a support band for a concert, promote the gig!!!  It only benefits everyone involved!

Where do you want to be career wise this time next year?

As happy as I am today.  I always said if I am not enjoying what I do, feeling passion for the artists I represent or feeling full-filled then I will stop.   I hope I am blessed to continue in this great field of music promotion, meeting so many extraordinary people and building my music library of some killer independent/unsigned bands!  LET’S KEEP INDIE MUSIC ALIVE!!